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How much does education really matter in the world of UX?

over 5 years ago from , User Experience Designer

I've started exploring several job listings for UX as I will be graduating in a year, but with with a bachelor's in IT. I've noticed that a lot of the companies are looking for candidates who majored in HCI or similar fields and some even have certain GPA requirements. How important is that aspect education for companies when hiring versus the experience?

I can't speak for most people, but I personally don't feel that my major defines who I am or what I will be doing with my career as I am a self-taught practitioner of UX. Any tips on how to make that more marketable?

12 comments

  • Cody FitzgeraldCody Fitzgerald, over 5 years ago

    I can advocate the opposite. I did four years of college (two at a JC, two at a university for History, go figure!) That's where I landed my first job as a graphic designer and by the end of college, I was recruited by a major tech company as a UX designer. I'm only 2 years out of college at 24, and feel I owe everything to my time at school.

    I learned everything on sites like this, browsing dribbble and behance, reading articles and doodling for fun to sharpen my design skills. But for everything else, college was invaluable. It gave me a chance to practice my passion while still enjoying being a young adult (read: no crazy bills to pay), taught me the responsibilities of setting schedules and balancing work with play, allowed me the freedom of being on my own and making my own decisions, gave me a chance to start organizing my finances, and the classroom expanded my knowledge far more than learning on my own could've. All said and done, you can be smart about how you go to school, come out relatively debt-free, land a great job, and come away with experiences you would otherwise miss out on if you skipped straight to the workforce. But it is definitely personal preference.

    4 points
  • Jamie Dickinson, over 5 years ago

    From my experience it's more about what you've done and achieved rather than your education. Looks like you've got a solid start with a good internship. Now it's about communicating what you did in the role, the results, what you learnt and how that translate into role you're applying for. The biggest challenge will be getting yourself in front of someone to do just that.

    Best of luck!

    3 points
  • Nadav Reis, over 5 years ago

    (Disclaimer: I work for InVision and I handle the educational partnerships. I am expressing my personal honest feeling here.)

    I think it depends. Some people do have a real gift that they have an innate skill in design. I do not think most people have that. I have done a couple of interviews with teachers at good schools (read below or don't, just trying to support my belief) and you can see that they work on opening the eyes of a student to be able to understand the end user, and not live in the world of their own preconceived notions.

    http://blog.invisionapp.com/inside-design-school-risd/http://blog.invisionapp.com/inside-design-school-art-center/

    If you can do that naturally, then going for a formal degree might not be something you need. Again, most people are not born that way.

    If you are going to go for a degree you must realize that not all schools are created equally. Picking the right schools make a huge difference in the quality of the education. It might also be that a 4 year formal degree might not the best advice for some people. There are Professional schools that can teach you UX/UI in a matter of months. (Disclaimer we partner with several, so I will not promoting any in particular) and do a very good job of it.

    Sometimes that piece of paper opens that door. If the job has a formal education requirement, even a great portfolio will be a hard sale.

    With all that being said, I also have a great friend that landed a few great design jobs over the years, and he it totally self taught.

    So is a formal degree useless? For sure not. Is it the best thing for you? Each designer needs to answer that for themselves.

    2 points
  • Helen . Helen . , over 5 years ago

    Like what Jamie mentioned, I agree that it's definitely what you've done and achieved.

    I am a self-taught designer who didn't even go to college or university and started picking up UI/UX on my own years ago.

    Started out doing freelance and building a 1-person company that provides design and UX services, got employed as a Interactive Designer for an agency and am now employed as a Lead UI/UX at another company.

    As long as you have a solid understanding and portfolio that explains your thought process and work, you'd be good to go.

    2 points
  • anna marsh, over 2 years ago

    There is overlap among the 2 disciplines, and in case you start down the direction to becoming a dressmaker of 1 sort, switching among the two is possible. Often, in reality, excellent UX designers are first rate photo designers and vice versa. How you emerge as one of the alternatives relies upon on the way you essay help UK study. Are you independent and can discern out stuff on your personal? You can dive into anything available on the net that will help you learn.

    1 point
  • Nathan NNathan N, over 5 years ago

    I think that it can differentiate you from your competition but experience is definitely the most important factor companies are looking for these days.

    1 point
  • jj moijj moi, over 5 years ago

    When some companies looking for designers with HCI background, it usually means that they're looking for designers with structured design/research processes and methods, usually the companies with large in-house design team (10+ designers). So if you can bring that to the table, any major or self-taught would do.

    1 point
  • Matt WalkerMatt Walker, over 5 years ago

    It depends on the company but these days companies care more about raw results and experience.

    In my personal experience (and having never gone to college) it's case studies and a solid portfolio that takes you furthest. If you're able to to showcase your methods, process, forethought, and show well reasoned and intentional design choices to an employer they will highly respect that.

    1 point
  • Mitchell AkomolafeMitchell Akomolafe, over 5 years ago

    'm pretty much in the exact same boat. I just graduated with a bachelors in Information Systems but my vision is to have a career in UX.

    Here in London there doesn't even seem to be any UX Internships. I have a decent grasp of the field due to a lot of reading, now just to work on the portfolio.

    I've chosen the path of taking Masters Degree in UX Design and I'll be starting this winter due to a lot of job listings requiring a degree in a related field just like you've pointed out plus it will hopefully build up my portfolio a little. So maybe that could be an option for you or maybe courses like the ones offered at http://designation.io

    1 point
  • Steves Jobs, 2 years ago

    I've been looking for many working listings for a year graduate as UX, but in a bachelor's IT. Custom Essay Help UK

    0 points
  • Max Bailey, over 5 years ago

    Personally, I believe there are some things that people are just born with. A sense of design, or usability are a couple of those. I was hired into a large (400+ employee) software company at the age of 16, and I am currently 18 and now working full-time.

    It's all about your skill level. School may be the right route for some people, and it might not be the right route for others. Personally, it doesn't look like I'll be going to school. I receive 5-10 job offers per month from my website and Dribbble alone.

    0 points
  • Beth RBeth R, over 5 years ago

    In my opinion, having that piece of paper can really go a long way. I guess it depends on what the industry is like in your city. I live in a government city so that piece of paper has definitely helped me out. Experience helps, but a good foundation and basic principles I find can only be found in those who studied. You can't build a house without a solid foundation (or at least you shouldn't), so I believe that you can't design something that is timeless, functional and scalable if you don't have an extensive background in design and colour theory .

    You might be the best self taught designer in the business, but what else can you do? UX is still a new discipline that changes fast. My education gave me options, in the long run. I can be a graphic designer for print or web, a motion designer, an illustrator, UX/UI Designer or front-end developer. I don't know if the self taught learners can say the same.

    0 points